What do you think the biggest hurdle is to teachers integrating even the smallest amounts of technology in their everyday practices? Lets discuss this and then the approaches to overcoming the hurdles.
I'll echo the time component here, but also the need for quality professional development by teachers who are using and/or are using technology in the classroom. The canned workshop productions that come and go, and with no follow up, leaves many teachers wilting under the weight of their computers and unwilling to forge ahead on their own.
How many teacher do we know who are still afraid they will blow up their computer by clicking their Start button? (too many).
I am sure glad my doctor has time to keep his skills and knowledge current. I am glad my dentist has time to review recent literature on the lastest developments in dentistry. Of course it is time. It has always been that way. I am a teacher and it was with me. This is not a new discovery so lets talk about how to address it. No seriously I mean. The truth is we don't want to address it. Why on earth would we have a professional development day with speakers on the latest and greatest in whatever? Why do we continue to do this and not recognize and hear what teachers are saying. Let me answer my own question ....because then we would have to do something about it.. It means real thought. like recognizing the system we have in place will not accomodate the remedy. Lets not change the system that is too revolutionary. And besides we can't because it is the system.
God bless the small impacts we are able to make by helping a few teachers do a few neat things with the technology. But it occurs on the fringes of our bigger system and will take a long time for it to really change anything.
Look, if I gave 10th grade students a problem like integrating technology in a church, or boy scout troop, or you pick it and said but the lead person doesn't have time to do the change. What solutions would come to them? Maybe like, we need another person helping the lead person. God forbide administrators think this. There is no time for teachers to really accomplish this goal of true integration in their classrooms, they need a local building technology mentor who helps assists and maybe delivers the technology pieces to the students..allow teachers to teach..and yes of course it is about money...but the United States is one of the richest countries in the world ....we have the money.....
The other side of the coin is teachers need to look at their jobs as other professionals see their jobs. I realize there are a lot of teachers who do just that but I hear this a lot too....I don't get paid for that...that is not my job.....Students will get it eventually....I don't have time to do anything, anytime...
I would ask those teachers Do you have 30minutes a day to devote to some professional activity being reading literature, learning new technology, changing lesson plans? Yes, I know many teachers who do these things but there are hundreds more who do not.
So sorry, my goodness what a rant.
Rants are very approporiate for this topic. Keep adding to this for another 24 hours and we will switch to solutions, including the results of a birds of a feather session I hosted out at NECC in San DIego last year.
I was reading down the list and kept seeing "time, time, time." I'm still irritated with those who don't have enough time. Teaching is NOT an 8 hour a day job!!! We need to do what it takes to help students make the leap.
But as it was difficult for secondary teachers to move away from the lecture-only format, I have confidence that this will prevail--EVENTUALLY. I think that access to tech tools for practice, access to excited people, and acces to the understanding that we DON'T have to be experts before we expose kids to this. We can all learn together, but so many are unwilling to give up the "I'm in 100% control of all information in my class. I'M the ONLY expert allowed here" mentality.
One good solution? Take away tenure so 'career comfort' is no longer a phenomenon in education. Teachers have to grow or they get out. period. (yes, I'm also a teacher, but work in a situation without tenure and it's nice to see colleagues who aren't helping children be asked to leave. After all, we work for our clients, don't we?)
In every company I've been in, most of the technology comes with little or no instruction, especially at the professional level. Sure, if you are learning to use some Oracle payroll system, there is instruction. but most computers just showed up one day and you had to sink or swim. Once email happened, paper memos disappeared within a year or two, and people who "didn't like email" were told to just get with the program or hit the road. Lots of people in businesses also don't know how to use their computers. I think there is a "grass is greener" image by educators that somehow businesses have this all figured out.
On top of that, I think there is a myth that there is some magic "good" professional development that will make all this click in for teachers. I just completed a paper for a journal on this and hope to have it published soon so I can share it.
It's a problem to expect teachers to learn new skills out of the context of their professional practice (the classroom), and then ask them to transfer those new skills to their classroom without any just-in-time support. In classroom, if the teacher tries new things and there are the inevitable glitches, they have no one to get help from immediately. It's too late to wait even to the end of the day to get help. The teachable moment (for that teacher) has been lost. Classroom mentors would help, but that's an expensive solution. (Unless you use students)
All the theories about community of practice rely on experts and novices being together to learn - situated in their community of practice. We often call professional development "learning communities" but they aren't the true place that teachers do their work, which is the classroom.
The need to support teacher's during and after training is a key component to any technology learning situation. I really like to think back to all of the early adopters and evangelists we have seen in school settings.I wonder if there would be a way of creating a simple mentoring framework that could be adopted to an individual environments (school / classroom) needs? But I think I will reserve further comment until tomorrow when we begin to look at solutions. Please give these issues some thought and we will begin to address solutions tomorrow afternoon.
I've wondered about offering "Web 2.0" trainings where we actually go to the school and work with the teachers and students over a period of days, offering several general instruction classes for the administrators, teachers, and students, as well as in-class help on actually doing some projects. (I even registered a domain for this: flatclassrooms.com). It would take a school really committed, though, to devote the time to this. Is that realistic?
In a perfect world Steve that would be realistic. However the time that is alotted for professional development is always directed towards traditional curriculum and classroom issues. If you really want to do something like that, I would suggest working with an intermediate unit and find a way to apply CEU's to it to entice the teachers to come. If you can tie it to the chance to earn continuing education units you have a stronger chance of attracting attendees.
I think it is possible. There are many people dissatisfied with current professional development offerings. It's also not that uncommon in the rest of the world to have experts in the classroom modeling teaching techniques.
As a compromise, many of our schools send students with teachers to vendor workshops. They swear by it, since it gives the teachers on-site support when back in the classroom.
By the way, Michael, I think we often give up too quickly to the status quo even when we know it could be better. It's always a balance to push the envelope of being unrealistic vs. staying in a suboptimal space. If Steve succeeded in this, it would be a great model.
I'm sorry I did not mean to ever infer that it should not be attempted. I really should have made that an alternative if it would not be possible in a district. I guess the common apathy we have seen with veteran teachers where it applies to prep time has made me suggest that right off the bat. I also am looking at the fact that this would be value added with the continuing education credits.
Great idea. We had a training on other topics (not technology) where the presenter came over four days, and team taught with us. She was annoying, so this was not pleasant, and it made the training extremely expensive. If you liked the person, it could work well, and I'm cool about working with others and team teaching, so I enjoyed it. I think one thing that is difficult is figuring out how to get the kids on the computers even when they are in your classroom. So much time is devoted to direct instruction now, it's difficult.
I also think this is a good way to move the tools. However, I think it needs to be for more than a period of days. I would like to be able to consult with a district over a long period (at least a semester) to introduce, implement and then really use the tools. It has been shown that this type of teacher training is very productive.